Peaches, Pillows & Lots of Jazz: A Walk Through Durham Farmers Market
It’s a gloomy Saturday morning. Gray clouds fill the sky and the pavement is covered with a thin layer of water from the rains of the previous night. My friend just dropped me off in front of the Durham Farmers Market.
The Farmers’ Market, which has over 65 vendors, is located at Durham Central Park Pavilion at 501 Foster Street. During its high season, which lasts from April to November, it is open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays. The mid-week Wednesday market is open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. from May to September.
There is already a line stretching around the block. Shoppers are determined to gather their fresh produce with rain jackets, umbrellas, and reusable grocery bags and baskets. Most people wear masks. I go to the back of the line.
Suddenly, a big bell rings. A man at the bottom of the line shouts: “Here we go!
People are starting to come into the market. A man in a red shirt standing at the corner of the sidewalk warmly greets “Hello!” to all comers. Salespeople are already busy chatting with customers approaching their booths. ” Hi, how are you ? Said a plant vendor.
I take note of all the vendors I come across: Gloria’s Glorious Goat Milk Fudge, Fruchtenicht Honey, Roberson Creek Farm, Soul Cocina, Wild Scallions Farm, Botanist & Barrel, Boxcarr Handmade Cheese.
Candles, prints, eggs, gourd nesting boxes, houseplants, photos, artisan cheese. Each stand is something new. I buy a bag of five peaches for five dollars while the seller at Kalawi Farms puts the fresh fruit on his table. I also take a bag of green beans before I leave.
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It’s been less than 10 minutes, but the market is already bustling. The lines began to meander behind the stations of popular vendors.
I enter a pavilion where white tents are pitched from top to bottom. Despite my instinct telling me that I don’t need to add a fifth dish of jewelry to my collection, I’m so impressed with the creativity of the artists in the market that I grab a cute blue and purple from Sarah Howe, who runs Sarah’s House of Clay.
Nearby, I hear a lady say to a young salesperson: “It’s nice to see unmasked faces!
On leaving the pavilion, I pass a man who plays the guitar and sings for passers-by. He has a kazoo around his neck and a tambourine strapped around his shoe so he can tap his foot in rhythm. There is an open guitar case on the floor in front of him with a sign that reads: “Genuine Durham Toe-Tapping: Happy Chad, the one man band”.
I then find myself at the Honeygirl Meadery tent. Here, I talk to an employee named Dakota, and he tells me that before the restrictions are lifted, people are happy to shop at the market again. He says that before people weren’t sure if they wanted to go out, but now there is enthusiasm from the public and the sellers.
“Honeygirl has always been at the Farmers’ Market since they got here,” says Dakota. “The market position is very important to us. We wanted to make sure we were involved in the community. [The owner of the company] Diane [Currier] is on the board of directors, so it’s something that is close to our hearts.
Before thanking him for his time, I tell Dakota that while I would love to support their business, unfortunately I cannot due to my age. It makes him laugh.
Gray clouds finally give way as it begins to water. Despite the rain, the market remains lively.
I venture across the street, away from the lodge and closer to the parking lot. There I find Williams Workshop, a tent with beautiful wooden cutting boards, rolling pins and spinning tops.
Chris Williams and his two young daughters are sitting on lawn chairs behind the table.
Williams says he started his workshop because he grew up working for the family business, so he wanted his kids to have the same opportunity. He enjoys woodworking, so he hopes that as his kids help him out, he can give them “the 100 Business Experiences” so they can think about where the money is coming from and what they want. want to produce.
Pointing to the tops, he says that one of his children was the genius behind the multiple colors of wood.
“We do things everyday, over and over again, and why can’t we have some really nice things to do these everyday things all the time? Williams said.
He says he works hard in the testing and manufacturing process to make sure his products will last a long time under regular use. Its goal is to manufacture parts that will last for generations.
“My dad has a cutting board that his dad made, and it’s been used for about 45 years,” says Williams. “I will probably inherit it if I have the chance that day, because everything will always be fine. “
Williams tells me he started with the Farmers’ Market after moving from Las Vegas a few years ago.
“We started looking for places where we could try to interact and meet people,” says Williams. “We went down and have really enjoyed it ever since.”
It’s been an hour since the market opened, and there has been a tangible increase in humidity. The market is still lively; conversations flutter in the air and strollers roll on the cement floor.
I visit a vendor’s tent full of adorable, colorful pillows with animals sewn into them. The owner of the tent, Marianne Donohue, gladly explains her art to me.
Donohue tells me her business is called Frances and Me. She says Frances is her mother’s name. She was the one who taught Donohue to sew.
Donohue says she gets inspiration for her pillows seeing animals she loves. His business grew thanks to requests like, “Hey, can you do a walrus?” “
Although the monkey is his favorite sewing animal, his biggest seller is the fox. From start to finish, making a pillow takes her about an hour if she has a pattern. Often times, she creates an assembly line with 10 pillows at a time to make the process more efficient.
Donohue attends two or three farmers’ markets a month to go out and “see people, talk to people and sell a bit.” She tells me how nice it is to be with people after COVID-19 has canceled many markets and how happy she is that the markets have started again.
“I love this neighborhood. The people are so friendly, ”says Donohue. “I know a lot of salespeople – you see people every week and you get used to seeing and knowing them.”
After almost two hours, the sun is finally breaking through the clouds, giving everyone something to celebrate.
Along the main strip of tents on the street, a jazz band sets up with a saxophone, drums, trombone and bass. The saxophone first plays a few notes to test the sound, then the band plays together and the music speeds up.
Allison Wattenbarger and Heidi Biermann, both PhD students at Duke Divinity School, stand in the grassy area between the tents, holding a coffee and enjoying the jazz performance.
“We usually stop to watch the flowers, and today there was live music for the first time, so we decided to have a coffee and listen a bit.”
As I prepare to leave the market, I circle around one last time. The jazz band has gotten stronger and the saxophonist is engrossed in their music, nodding their heads and focusing on every note of their solo.